JitzKing Middleweight Tournament Preview

The Florida-based JitzKing promotion returns on the 13th of June with a massive card featuring a 16-man no-gi tournament at middleweight (185lbs) with seven additional super fights to round out the event. This tournament follows their successful 16-man tournament at 145lbs in January earlier this year that saw Ethan Crelinsten emerge victorious.

The winner stands to net $5k, though more importantly they can claim victory over some of the best brown and black-belt grapplers active on the scene right now. Some of these competitors have been extremely active since competitive grappling has returned from its COVID-19 hiatus. Just last week we saw Pedro Marinho, Jake Watson, William Tackett and Roberto Jimenez putting on great performances at the Third Coast Grappling Kumite in Texas. Johnny Tama featured on Fight 2 Win 142 just two weeks ago, alongside William Tackett who defended his Lightweight No-Gi Title that he won just the week before at Fight 2 Win 141!

Jitzking Middleweight Tournament
JitzKing Middleweights Bracket

The official bracket has been released and features some seriously compelling first round match-ups. Of the first round bouts be sure not to miss the powerhouse BB Monster taking on the current Lightweight no-gi World Champion, Johnny Tama. BB Monster is one of the biggest men in the bracket, and will likely be cutting a bit of weight to make the 185lb limit, while Tama generally only competes as high as 170lbs. Tama definitely has the skills to take the whole thing, but Araujo won’t make it easy to get out of the first round unscathed.

The other first round match to watch is the battle of the dark horses as John Combs takes on Jake Watson. While both men are extremely accomplished in their own right, neither have really had the break out performance on the superfight scene that would make them a household name – this middleweight tournament might just give them that opportunity.

Left Side

  • Jason Rau vs JB Bechtloff 
  • Pedro Marinho vs David Garmo
  • William Tackett vs Jay Jay Wilson 
  • Roberto Jimenez vs Yuri Villefort

Right Side

  • Valdir “BB Monster” Araujo vs Johnny Tama
  • John Combs vs Jake Watson
  • Alan Sanchez v Benji Silva
  • Gabriel Castro vs Oliver Taza 

With so many names on this card, it’s tough to map out a clean path to victory for any man, though there are definitely some favourites:

Roberto Jimenez

roberto jimenez fight 2 win

The black-belt phenom is having an impressive first year outside of the colored belts. Jimenez has picked up some impressive scalps, beating Keenan Cornelius at the inaugural Who’s Number One event, and narrowly losing to Gustavo Batista in the finals of last week’s 3CG Kumite, as well as the countless names he’s submitted throughout the colored belts. While Jimenez is definitely the man to beat in this brakcet, there are some potential stumbling blocks. Jimenez has arguably had his best success in the gi and he may struggle in a bracket chock full of pure no-gi specialists. There’s also a nagging trend that has become increasingly noticeable: Jimenez seems to struggle against strong opponents that push him physically. Jimenez’s recent loss to Lucas Barbosa at F2W 137 is a prime example of this, as well as aforementioned loss to Gustavo Batista. With some big boys in the mix here it will be interesting to see how he adapts.

Johnny Tama

Tama is without question the most credentialed competitor in the bracket with a laundry list of titles (including at no-gi worlds!) and victories across the tournament and super fight scene, however he may also be one of the smaller men in the bracket. We mentioned above that he meets BB Monstro in the first round, but there are very few other potential match ups where Tama won’t be giving up some size. Will his pristine technique be enough to negate any size difference? It’s definitely a potential sticking point.

William Tackett

Tackett is the very definition of streaking young phenom. He is the previous JitzKing tournament champion at 165lbs as a purple belt, submitting his way to the finals and wracking up a 12-0 victory against Mauricio Gomez. He has also had stand out performances at the last West Coast ADCC trials. Extremely busy on the superfight scene, Tackett’s only difficulty may be just how active he has been. This will have been his fourth week in a row competing in a high-level event and it’s easy to imagine some fatigue must be creeping in. Regardless, win or lose, Tackett will entertain.

Jason Rau

For Jason Rau, this is exactly the kind of tournament that he thrives in. The Matt Serra black belt has submitted his way to victory over innumerable big names in the North American superfight scene, and made strong runs at both of the recent North American ADCC Trials (on both coasts). Rau has also run up against many of his fellow competitors before, notably dropping a narrow points loss to William Tackett at the West Coast ADCC Trials. Rau has the potential to get his revenge in this tournament and will look to leverage his considerable experience to submit his way to victory.

Full List of JitzKing Middleweight Tournament Competitors:

  • JB Bechtloff 
  • William Tackett 
  • Pedro Marinho 
  • John Combs  
  • Jake Watson 
  • Jason Rau  
  • Oliver Taza  
  • Yuri Villefort
  • Gabriel Castro 
  • Valdir Araujo “BB Monster” 
  • Roberto Jimenez 
  • Johnny Tama 
  • Jay Jay Wilson 
  • Alan Sanchez  
  • Benji Silva  
  • David Garmo  
Super Fights

Not to be overshadowed by the 16-man bracket, the card features seven super fights. The headliner sees sub-only specialist Kody Steele run up against the ever exciting Mauricio Gomez. The rest of the card features well-matched bouts from all ages and belt levels and should provide some interesting breaks from the tournament action.

Super Fights:

Black Belts

Kody Steele vs Mauricio Gomez No-Gi

Emilio Hernandez vs Raphael Cadena Gi 

Brown Belts

Kevin Granados vs Matheus Machado Gi

Purple Belts

Corban Sainz vs Tony Torres No-Gi

Blue/Purple Belts

Andrew Tackett vs Caio Matias 

Orange Belts

Sofia Delgado vs Alana Delva No-Gi

Caleb Tackett vs Tristan Sainz NoGi

Tickets to the event can be found here, or you can stream the event live on FloGrappling.

Joe Mills

Joe Mills is one of the writing staff here at Grappling Insider. Living in Auckland, New Zealand, Joe has been training out of Atos Auckland/City Kickboxing for about five years. Joe is a self-professed technique nerd and follows as much competitive grappling as he can get his eyes on. You can follow him on Instagram @obearded for cat pics and occasional training snaps.

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